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|5th Global Women's Strike: Defend a 'Caring Economy' in Venezuela/Condemn US in|
|Date||Monday March 08|
|Time||3:30 PM - 5:30 PM|
|Import this event into your personal calendar.|
Federal Building in San Francisco
450 Golden Gate (nr Polk..Civic Center BART)
3:30-5:30, all Welcome
Call for more info about local actions:
8 March 2004 -- Calling all women
5th GLOBAL WOMEN’S STRIKE
Calling all men to join with women to
STOP THE WORLD AND CHANGE IT!
INVEST IN CARING NOT KILLING!
A long grassroots history
The GLOBAL WOMEN'S STRIKE was born in 1999, when women in Ireland decided to welcome the new millennium with a national general strike. They asked the International Wages for Housework Campaign to support their call, and we called on women all over the world to make the Strike global on 8 March 2000.
The Strike came out of a long grassroots history, starting in 1952 with a little pamphlet called A Woman’s Place and continuing with Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community, now a classic, in 1972, and Sex, Race and Class in 1973.* All three made the case that the work women do for wages is a second job, that the work we do in the home and in the community without wages, producing all the workers of the world, and our struggle to change the world, were invisible but central.
Since then, we have been campaigning to get RECOGNITION and WAGES for all the unwaged work women do, as well as for PAY EQUITY-- these are JOINT LEVERS against women's poverty, exploitation and discrimination of every kind. According to the UN, women do 2/3 of the world’s work: from breastfeeding and raising children to caring for those who are sick, older or disabled, to growing, preparing and cooking the food that feeds families, communities and continents (80% of food consumed in Africa is grown by women), to volunteer work and to work in the informal economy as cleaners, seamstresses, street sellers, sex workers, as well as work in the formal economy. Here again women’s work is often caring for people, in hospitals and schools, as domestic workers, childminders, personal assistants . . . or in sweatshops - jobs where men who do comparable work also get low pay. But women get the lowest, and often face sexual and racial harassment.
Although in every country all this work is basic to the welfare and even survival of humanity, it is devalued and ignored by the Market, and women get only 5% of the world’s assets in return.
In Beijing in 1995, the International Women Count Network which we co-ordinate, supported by more than 1,500 organisations, won a major UN decision. National accounts were to include how much of their lifetime women spend doing unwaged work and how much value this work creates. Trinidad & Tobago and Spain have put this into law; other countries are carrying out time-use surveys and increasingly consider unwaged work in court decisions and government policies.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Women in over 60 countries
Since 2000 the Strike has been a great success. It has brought together women in over 60 COUNTRIES, including grassroots organisations with impressive track records, who also demand a world that values all women’s work and every life, and who have achieved much. They are now part of an international network of Strike co-ordinators.
In Venezuela, we are working with the women who are building a caring economy and won Article 88 of the Constitution, which recognises housework as an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth, entitling housewives to social security. The Strike has been spreading news of such momentous victories, supporting the revolutionary process there in which women from the grassroots are the most active participants.
The Strike is part of the movement against war and occupation not only in Iraq but in Palestine, Chechnya, Colombia, Congo, Kashmir . . . Our priority has been to highlight the struggle that women make and the direction this gives, from which the whole movement benefits but which is often as ignored as the unwaged survival work we do. With the theme INVEST IN CARING NOT KILLING, we demand that the $900+ billion now spent on military budgets is used instead for basic survival needs -- clean accessible water, food security, healthcare, housing, education, safety from rape and other violence, protection of our planet -- and therefore for women who are the first carers and the first fighters for the survival of loved ones. We claim for a start the US military budget -- over half the world’s military spending -- with which “Corporate America” imposes its economic and political interests on the whole world (including on people in the US).
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The contribution of those sectors most discriminated against
Those sectors of women who are most discriminated against – all women of colour, including women of Indigenous, African and Asian descent, single mothers, women with disabilities, immigrant women, sex workers, lesbian women . . . use the Strike to spell out their contribution to every economy, society and struggle. The Strike insists that more powerful sectors acknowledge this contribution.
We also demand recognition for the contribution of men who actively support our struggle because they agree that INVEST IN CARING NOT KILLING is the priority of all workers and all humanity. Not only do men owe women their daily survival -- from breastfeeding to cooked meals, clean clothes and emotional support -- but they also depend on women prioritising survival to oppose the values of the Market, values which now threaten the survival of the world. The web page of Payday, a network of men, http://www.refusingtokill.net, is an important contribution to the movement against war, and to the recognition of all those who risk their own life and liberty in defence of everyone’s life and liberty.
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A framework for unity
We are often told that in order to win we must unite, but we don’t hear much about how to do that (except from political parties that want to lead us). We use the Strike as a framework for unity -- among sectors of women, between women and men, within and among countries -- because it is based on each sector accepting and enriching the independent struggle of every other. The Strike is not party political, nor is it separatist. It is ambitious for the movement for change but it stands against personal ambition that undermines mutual accountability.
The Global Women’s Strike has extended from taking joint action every 8 March. It is now a global network that strengthens the ongoing daily struggle of grassroots women (and men). We attach what Strike coordinators in some countries say about what they have achieved with it.
The Strike establishes that as carers, waged or unwaged, we are always WORKERS, and that we have the power to bring the whole economy to a halt. That’s what women did in Iceland on 24 October 1975. They said: WHEN WOMEN STOP, EVERYTHING STOPS.
We add: STOP THE WORLD AND CHANGE IT.
Selma James and Nina López, 17 January 2004
· Payment for all caring work – in wages, pensions, land & other resources. What is more valuable than raising children & caring for others? Invest in life & welfare, not military budgets & prisons.
· Pay equity for all, women & men, in the global market.
· Food security for all, starting with breastfeeding mothers. Paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks & other benefits – stop penalising us for being women.
· Don’t pay ‘Third World debt’. We owe nothing, they owe us.
· Accessible clean water, healthcare, housing, transport, literacy.
· Non-polluting energy & technology which shortens the hours we work. We all need cookers, fridges, washing machines, computers, & time off!
· Protection & asylum from all violence & persecution, including by family members & people in positions of authority.
· Freedom of movement. Capital travels freely, why not people
*Until then, it was assumed that only those who did waged work, mainly men in industrial countries, were ‘real’ workers, and that only they could change the world. The Wages for Housework Campaign broke with this sexism and racism, establishing autonomy as a new basis for organising and unifying.
l Visibility and respect l Wider networks l
l Grassroots women’s anti-racism l
l The largest women’s anti-war event in our history l
l We’ve all changed l
ARGENTINA, Santa Fe
"For more than 15 years we struggled in isolation for the huge amount of work we women do caring for others to be recognised with a wage and a pension. While this country was being sold and put in debt, women were more and more impoverished, and had to support a hungry population with only our free work.
In all this time we have been called all sorts of names. For trade unions, civil servants, political parties and many feminists, we were “backward and mad”.
As we felt we were weakening, we had the immense pleasure of finding that there were other “mad ones” in many parts of the world, who had been in this struggle much longer than us. With the first Strike call we found these women on every continent.
This has strengthened our organisation enormously. It has made us revalue the autonomy which has prevented any party from using us.
From 2000 we have made a great leap forward locally and nationally. Now they look at us with respect.
We have been able to reach more grassroots women all the time, encouraging them to form autonomous inter-neighbourhood women’s networks, and to relate to other organisations which share our goals.
Many times we had enclosed ourselves within borders put up by those who dominate us, thinking that we are worse off or better fighters than everyone else. Since joining the Strike, we have realised that there aren’t better or worse struggles or experiences. Each of us invents thousands of ways to survive and take the Strike forward, which is the synthesis of all our convictions.
This year most of our city (150,000 people) ended up under water because of a river flooding and the corruption of those who rule us. Strike women in other countries gave us the support we needed. Most importantly, we can carry on our class action for justice against the most powerful without fear, because we know that we are not alone and that in the face of any attack women in other parts of the world will raise their voices in our defence."
Sindicato de Amas de Casa de Santa Fe
"Sometimes Guyana is a country at war - when the tension and conflict that the British and American governments first helped create between Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese explodes into violence. Then there is the other kind of violence that those of us who are from these groups commit against those of us who are Indigenous Guyanese, whose interests are just thrown aside.
In the last two years the Strike helped us to make our opposition to the racism and violence whose main victims are grassroots women and children visible. In 2002 we organized a march of women, of all race groups - Indo-Guyanese, Afro-Guyanese, Indigenous, Mixed - supported by children and men. We went to an Afro-Guyanese community, Linden, from which Indo-Guyanese were violently driven out in the 1960s and we said publicly that we had come to reclaim Linden for grassroots women of all races.
Through the Strike we’ve gained recognition as grassroots women who are anti-racist. More women have joined our network.
Every year we put forward practical demands - especially against the higher prices we’re paying for water and electricity because of privatisation. But our main demand has been for an end to racist violence. We organized marches of mostly women, of all race groups - Indo-Guyanese, Afro-Guyanese, Indigenous, Mixed - supported by children and men, proclaiming our opposition to racist violence in Guyana and racist war in Iraq. We said: “We don’t want to make our children to go and kill some other woman’s child.”
We’ve all changed: all of us are more conscious of the racism, and more willing to speak out against it. We have begun to feel we’re part of a global movement where before we used to feel cut off. We feel as if something happens in Guyana the Strike will fight with us internationally."
“What we are most proud of is that the Strike has given us a way to come together across many divides. Irish women are not expected to unite with English women, who come from the country that waged war and occupied Ireland so many centuries ago and where the bitter divides still remain. The religious divides between Protestant and Catholic that are a legacy of this have plagued us on this island, and now the new rift the warmongers have stirred up between Muslim and Christian is added to that. Many expect women from the South to know what women in the North have been through in the recent war there over whether that part of the island should be a part of the Irish or British State, but our ignorance is great and even there the divisions run deep.
Under our constitution Ireland is neutral in all wars so the US military use of Shannon airport is supposed to be illegal. We have been able to use the Strike to organise a weekly picket against war and occupation, and an anti-war convoy to Shannon from Galway city, bringing women together from North and South of Ireland, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim, Christian, atheist, and to say why as women we are particularly opposed to war in many of the protest events we have participated in.”
Wages for Housework Campaign
“With the Strike we acknowledge that women’s struggles and objectives are the same all over the world. We have related to other women’s organisations which fight for our common objectives with great courage and determination, each from our own specific situation, demanding our fundamental rights as women and as workers who care for the whole of humanity.
We have extended our network in the provinces - Chota, Cajamarca, Jaén, Trujillo - where there are now new organisations of domestic workers, and our interchange with the Aymara communities of Puno.
As a result of the Strike pressuring the UN and of the demands of organisations like our own and the Confederation of Domestic Workers in Bolivia, some governments are considering meeting the demands of our sector and laws have been passed in Peru and Bolivia.
The Strike has helped us to accept ourselves as we are, so that, for example, our sisters can have free sexual choice. Before the Strike we were prejudiced because of our machista and patriarchal culture. We have broken the ice and lesbian women are able to organise autonomously and make their situation visible.
We have learnt to be self-critical about our mistakes while also speaking our mind. From this we learn to be stronger and more aware.”
“The Strike has helped us to have a wider vision and to situate ourselves both as an exploited class and in the struggle against those who oppress the women of the world.
The Strike is part of me because the demands of the women of the world are my demands. I feel that we are invincible because we are the great majority and they are my sisters in struggle. The Strike is the voice of all because we each carry out a mission of extending activist awareness for the defence of life.”
Centro de Capacitación para Trabajadoras del Hogar
“The Strike gives us visibility, a space where rural women can participate and speak out about the issues that affect our daily lives. With the Strike we have won over more women’s organisations such as mothers’ clubs, craft groups, soup kitchens, as well as the support of men from some of these groups.
It has enabled us to strengthen our local demands and form groups of different types of Andean crafts. The income that rural women contribute through crafts is for the benefit of the family - its education, food, housing. We now hope to reach an international market with our produce and cut out the middle men.
We hope to call out on strike many more sectors in our country and in Bolivia.”
Centro Aymará “Pacha Aru”
“The Strike has transformed us, helping to break us free of the habit of relating and prioritising one sector of women over others, to move beyond our neighbourhood and region, to act locally - in our neighbourhoods, plazas, markets, schools, workplaces - but with an international perspective, and to widen our networks. It has made visible the contribution of those of us who are immigrant.
We have used the Strike to press for implementation of the laws to measure and value unwaged work in national accounts, which we won in the Catalan Parliament in 1997 and in the National Congress in 1998.
The mass Strike actions brought together women’s opposition to war and globalisation. We have compared the military budget and the government’s support for US and UK warmongering (in spite of over 90% of the population actively opposing the war in Iraq), with welfare benefits for low income families - the lowest in the EU.
In Catalunya we won changes to school dinner grants for families without income who were discriminated against.
With ongoing translations of materials over the e-mail, telephone, radio and at meetings, we grassroots women work hard to be connected, accountable and useful to each other.”
Campaña por un Salario para el Trabajo sin Sueldo
“The poorest are the grassroots women globally. We are neglected and discriminated against because we are poor. BUT the Global Strike has changed our lives. We have gained free medical services, no cost sharing. The Land Act also allows women to own land and properties and inherit the late husband’s properties. The Strike has helped to express our point of view in a more effective way. Like we say, Invest in Caring Not Killing. Wars will never bring peace in the world.
Through our network many people are very much interested in the Strike because of the good fruits it has produced. Our major demand for this year’s Strike is: we need accessible clean water. It’s all our suffering. No war, no guns, and the government should stop the war which has been affecting especially children, women and all the communities in the whole of northern and eastern Uganda. Many people have died, or been raped and abducted; thousands are internally displaced without essentials. Why is our government interested in solving wars in other countries instead of handling this war in Uganda which has gone on for 17 years? There are many demands which are not met. But we shall win and change the world.
An elderly member said, “We shall never give up the Strike. I ask all women to stand up and put their voices together and join in the Strike. Did I ever dream that my husband would give me a cow for my caring work? It is all because of the Strike.
Please join us in our demand of WATER, WATER. We have the source of the river Nile in Uganda.Why shouldn’t we take the water for agriculture, so that women have enough food for their families!"
Kaabong Women’s Organisation
USA, Los Angeles
“The 2003 Strike was the largest women’s anti-war and International Women’s Day event in LA history, with an estimated 3-5,000 participants. It brought together grassroots women, with the major anti-war networks, and activist celebrities such as actors Ed Asner, Dave Clennon, Danny Glover and Wendy Malnick, and internationally known Vietnam Vet Ron Kovic (played by Tom Cruise in the Hollywood film “Born on the 4th of July”), and it was supported by KPFK, a major alternative radio network. Women’s contribution and leadership now have an unprecedented level of visibility in all movements for change in LA.
The power of the Strike helped kick off our weekly anti-military/corporate occupation picket outside Bechtel Corporation, and to form an ongoing working relationship with community-based anti-war networks, the El Sereno and San Gabriel Valley Neighbors for Peace and Justice. The biggest anti-war network has supported the Strike and our ongoing activities. We are also invited to speak at press events and protests in support of the massive strike of grocery workers.
Despite unprecedented access to male-dominated platforms, the Strike has helped us to resist the pull of two dangerous seductions: separatism on the one hand and male power on the other, and to remain accountable to grassroots women.
The Strike has also given us a practical tool to acknowledge and attack the provincialism of those of us living “in the belly of the beast”. By forcing us to focus on the global even as we focus on our local situation, the Strike helps those of us in the US, no matter how poverty stricken we may be, not to scab on our sisters in the South who are in much more dire straits. It has helped open our eyes to the leadership offered by those resisting US domination outside of the US and to be strengthened by it.”
Global Women’s Strike/LA
Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike
"The Strike gained visibility, prominence and respect for women’s voices and demands in the massive protests against war in Iraq. We have been asked to speak on the impact of the war at home and defend welfare and other benefits and services, which are being cut to make way for military spending, and are key to increasing the minimum wage and therefore all wages.
We won’t allow the disabilities and illnesses created by war and weapons pollution, in countries attacked by the US as well as among US vets and their families, to remain hidden.
The Strike brought together the most diverse multiracial crowd of any anti-war activity in the region to date, an indication for all to see that the Strike demands speak to a wide cross-section of people, not just the “white peace movement”. We have been a crucial voice for mothers and grandmothers against military recruitment programs in school. A Black woman raising her grandchildren said what we oppose: ‘Billions for war and not a dollar for a child.’
The Strike’s involvement in Venezuela, has greatly enriched our view of the world and what is possible.”
Wages for Housework Campaign
WinVisible - women with visible and invisible disabilities
USA, San Francisco
“The Strike is where each year we make visible our particular initiatives, but it challenges us to draw out the inter-relationships between what have seemed ‘separate’ issues.
Our strength has been the organizing for the civil and legal rights of women in the sex industry, which led to our founding a grassroots legal service for women. Many of us are lesbian, and in running a legal service for many years we have a wealth of experience based on organizing against the discrimination women, especially ‘sexual outlaws’, face from the police, courts, judges, in both criminal and family law. By the third Strike we used it to press City Hall on a resolution to end violence against sex workers.
The Strike has helped us to extend our network to other sectors, organizations and neighbourhoods, ie homeless women, older women, welfare mothers, Immokalee farm workers, anti-war, solidarity and anti-globalisation networks . . . International Women’s Day activities were almost non-existent in the Bay Area until the Strike.
The Strike has brought an international focus to our work, connecting us more to the lives and reality of women in the South. We have learned what corporations are based in SF and what their role is in international exploitation.
During the Strike we are taking control over areas of the City where many of us grassroots people don’t ordinarily go. We also have seen the response of women and men at the Strike, and experienced ourselves a taste of the power of the sectors and issues coming together as one force.”
US PROStitutes Collective
Wages Due Lesbians
Global Women’s Strike Co-ordination
Crossroads Women's Centre
230a Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2AB
Tel: 00-44-20-7482 2496 Fax: 00-44-20-7209 4761
Co-ordination of men’s actions and support:
Address above firstname.lastname@example.org
SAC, Francia 3036, 3000 Santa Fe
Tel: 00-54-342-453 0216 & 496 0868
Red Thread, 72 Princess & Adelaide Streets, Charlestown, Georgetown
Tel/Fax: 00-592-227 7010
Chhattisgarh Women’s Organisation
Pithora, Mahasamund, Chhattisgarh 493551
Tel: 00-91-7707 71107
10 Galway Bay Apartments, Salthill, Galway
Tel: 00-353-91 520269
132 Wakulski, Cercado, Lima
Tel: 00-51-1-423 1958
Jr. 20 de Julio No 159, Urbanización Fernando Belaunde Terry, Chanuchanu, Puno
Tel: 00-51-51-356 808
Centro 'Las Mujeres Cuentan', Radas 27 Local,
Tel/Fax: 00-34-93-442 2304
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
NUDE, Mount Pleasant Rd, Arima
Tel: 001-868-667 5247
KWO, PO Box 9344, Kampala, Uganda
Tel: 00-256-41 271012, Fax: 00-256-41 346456
Los Angeles Crossroads Women's Centre
PO Box 86681, LA, CA 90086-0681
Tel/Fax: 001-323-292 7405
Philadelphia Crossroads Women's Centre
PO Box 11795, Philadelphia, PA 19101
Tel: 001-215-848 1120 Fax: 001-215-848 1130
San Francisco Crossroads Women's Centre
PO Box 14512, SF, CA 94114
Tel/Fax: 001-415-626 4114